Mikel Arteta repeated his suggestion that Ainsley Maitland-Niles isn’t a natural full-back on Friday, after completing the signing of Cedric Soares.

ainsley maitland niles v chelsea
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 29: Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea and Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal. Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on December 29, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

When Arsenal and Mikel Arteta made their move for Southampton full-back Cedric Soares towards the end of the January transfer window, some fans didn’t understand what that meant for Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

The academy graduate was the squad’s backup right-back recently in Héctor Bellerín’s absence, a role now presumably going to Soares.

This Sunday in particular, expect Maitland-Niles to remain as a backup to Bellerin against Burnley, with Soares not ready yet. If you’re thinking of placing a bet on the game, check out this Sugarhouse Promo Code.

Mikel Arteta recently suggested Maitland-Niles isn’t a full-back though, clearly seeing the player’s future elsewhere on the pitch. He repeated this after the Soares signing on Friday.

“We have some necessities in certain areas, playing some players in positions that are not really their positions, Arteta said. “With more time I would like to have specialists for every position to do exactly what we want to do.

“But Ainsley has adapted really well to that position, the same as Bukayo. They have been really helpful so why not? They can still play in those positions but naturally they are other type of players.”

ainsley maitland niles v watford
WATFORD, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 15: Ismaila Sarr of Watford is challenged by Ainsley Maitland-Niles of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Arsenal FC at Vicarage Road on September 15, 2019, in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

The assumption is that Arteta sees Maitland-Niles as a midfielder. That’s where the player himself seems to want to play, and it’s where the head coach brought him on for a few minutes against Bournemouth this week.

That’s not the only position Maitland-Niles has played in though. He featured on the left for a while last season, and at right-wing at times this campaign. Maybe he’ll even stay at right-back if Arsenal continue to have injury troubles.

We’ll have to wait and see what Arteta does with him in the coming months. The signing of Soares could prove a blessing or a curse, depending on whether Maitland-Niles gets chances to impress elsewhere.